The design of these atheniennes is inspired by a work-table with cassolette by Jacob Frères, which derived from the famous Pompeian tripod in the Naples Archaeological Museum, and was published by Percier and Fontaine, Recueil de Décorations Intérieures, 1812, pl. 23. It is inscribed Petite Table de travail, renfermant une Cassolette, exécutée pour Me. M. à Paris. Me. M. was in reality the wife of General Moreau. The Percier table is more elaborately mounted than this or the other known examples. One stamped by Jacob Frères is in the Château de Fontainebleau, see G. Janneau, Les Meubles, vol. III, pl. 28. A further example in burr elm was sold Christie’s, Paris, 24 June 2002, lot 23 (€160,750), while a pair of slightly later date was sold Christie’s, London, 12 December 2002, lot 85 (£77,675).This was apparently ordered by the Premier Consul when he refurnished Saint-Cloud in 1799 and it may well have been in the apartment of Josephine. A similar pair sold Christie’s, London, 12 December 2002, lot 85. An interesting feature of the Restauration example in this lot is the manipulation of the yew veneer to imitate thuya by adding a dot-like design throughout. This curious way of enhancing yew wood is also found on the famed Elgin secrétaire attributed to Adam Weisweiler and Pierre-Philippe Thomire and now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (inv. BK-1992-30).
Alexis von Roseberg, Baron de Redé (1922-2004) was a man of impeccable taste and one of the most important figures of Parisian high society during his life. Born in Zurich into an ennobled Jewish family with Austro-Hungarian origins, he lived in Switzerland and New York but ultimately found his home in France. In 1947 he moved into the seventeenth-century Hôtel Lambert in Paris, which he fully restored; a work for which he was appointed commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres towards the end of his life. He shared this Parisian home with his married Chilean millionaire partner Arturo López Willshaw, with whom he hosted lavish and extravagant parties famous throughout Europe. The Baron was described as 'the Eugène de Rastignac of modern Paris' by Sir Henry 'Chips' Channon and as the greatest host in Europe. A painting by Alexandre Serebriakoff depicting the Salle des Muses at Hôtel Lambert depicts the opulence of the Baron de Redé's taste in interior design, see H. Vickers, Alexis: The Memoirs of the Baron de Redé, Wimborne, 2005, p. 57. Alexis von Roseberg’s collection of furniture and objets d'art was sold at Sotheby's, Monaco, 25-26 May 1975 and Sotheby's, Paris, 17 March 2005.
The Hôtel Lambert is one of the most famous hôtels particulier in Paris. It was designed by the architect Louis Le Vau and built between 1640 and 1644, originally for the financier Jean-Baptiste Lambert (d. 1644) and continued by his younger brother Nicolas Lambert. The interiors were decorated by the foremost painters Charles Le Brun and Eustache Le Sueur. In 1843 the palace was bought by members of the Polish princely Czartoryski family. Among the illustrious guests and patrons of the hôtel Lambert were some of the most notable artists and politicians of the epoch, including Frédéric Chopin, Honoré de Balzac, Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, Eugène Delacroix. Chopin's 'La Polonaise' was composed exclusively for the Polish ball held there every year. In the twentieth century the building was discreetly split into several luxurious apartments; Baron Alexis de Redé and Arturo Lopez-Wilshaw lived on the ground floor and it was there where, in 1956, the Bal des Têtes was held that launched the career of the young Yves Saint Laurent.